The Otsego County Conservation Association announced last week that it was awarded $70,000 through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Bay Watershed Education and Training program to develop hands-on projects for local students with an environmental and civic impact.

The funding, eligible to be extended for an additional two years, will benefit the Chesapeake Bay Headwaters Educational Ecosystem project, a three-year partnership between the two agencies intended to encourage environmental literacy and stewardship by New York schools throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, according to Amy Wyant, OCCA executive director.

“Our goals around expanding environmental literacy are to connect students and teachers to the environment around them, help them understand how their actions impact that environment and how they can in turn impact the preservation of the environment for future generations,” Wyant said.

The program will implement student-led investigations of local environmental issues — known as Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences — that culminate in a stewardship action project, connecting students to environmental science and civic engagement, according to Wyant.

“MWEEs are great because they engage students in local issues while connecting them to the wider world,” Wyant said. “We’re providing teachers with the skills and tools that will enable them to bring MWEEs into their schools and engaging the next generation of environmental advocates.”

“We are delighted to provide NOAA B-WET funding to support Otsego County Conservation Association’s first-of-its-kind effort in New York to build capacity for teachers, school administrators, and non-formal educators,” said Elise Trelegan, program coordinator for the Chesapeake B-WET program. “Their thoughtful approach to outreach and training will help schools provide meaningful watershed educational experiences for students for years to come.”

Wyant said OCCA aims to provide professional development and training for more than 100 area teachers over the course of the project, building curriculum for digital and in-person professional development for science teachers in grades 5 through 12.

Visit occainfo.org/chesapeake-bay-headwaters-educational-ecosystem for more information on the Chesapeake Bay Headwaters Educational Ecosystem and noaa.gov/office-education/bwet for more information on MWEEs and other B-WET-funded projects.

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